Highland Park ISD will begin with an emergency closure schedule starting Thursday, Aug. 20, with parents being given the option to send their children to school for in-person instruction beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The decision was announced by Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg on Tuesday, August 4 during a work session of the HPISD Board of Trustees.
"We have said since starting our planning for this school year more than two months ago that our top priority is the health and safety of our students, staff, parents and community. That is our true north," Trigg said. "We are well aware that we have conflicting direction from the county and the state, but that doesn’t diminish in any way our responsibility as a school district to be ready for students and staff when in-person instruction begins—and it will begin Sept. 8."
The district has an ample supply of PPE including hand sanitizer in every classroom, plexiglass in high traffic areas and cleaning supplies. Plexiglass shields to be used by each elementary school student throughout the day and for use in secondary cafeterias are also on order.
Starting in-person instruction on Sept. 8 will give district staff time to prepare to offer two simultaneous tracks of rigorous instruction, both in-person in a safe setting and remote, which has never been done previously. To accommodate these two tracks, staffing adjustments will be necessary in every grade at every school.
"We have said from the outset that in-person instruction is our preference for a multitude of reasons, but we have to be prepared to offer both and have both offerings be equal in terms of academic rigor," Trigg said.
Barring anything unforeseen at this time, Sept. 8 will be the date in-person instruction begins. The number of COVID-19 cases in the zip codes serving the Park Cities are among the lowest in Dallas County and the number of new cases reported by the county yesterday dropped to its lowest point in six weeks.
Starting with an emergency closure schedule will also prepare staff, students and parents to be ready in case it is necessary to close a school or all schools later in the semester. The remote learning offered this coming fall, whether through an emergency closure schedule or if chosen by parents for their children, will look significantly different and be much stronger than what was offered in the spring.